Sunday, December 1, 2013

Escaping The Doldrums

...people who don't pay attention often get stuck... in... the... doldrums. Norton Juster.

There's been very little wind lately around Cairns which makes for nice lazy - if a little too steamy - paddles on the ocean, stinking hot sweaty hikes, and greasy bouldering down on the Esplanade, but not much in the way of challenge in the sea kayaks. 
 Glassy conditions
All that changed today as a surface trough brought increasing southeasterly winds which, when I last checked, had got up to about 16 knots at Cairns airport. Doug and I have been waiting for some winds, not just to relieve the sticky humidity, but to get out and play with the kayaks in some waves, and to try our new kayak sails.
Kayak sailing on the Coral Sea
There's no real surf around Cairns. The Great Barrier Reef protects the coastline from true ocean swells, but, when the wind gets up around 12 or 15 knots you can get some locally generated wind chop. Not as good as long regular swells, but better than nothing. So far, the best place we have found for a breaking wave is near Yorkeys Knob, where an off-shore sandbar generates some small spilling waves. 
Baby waves at Yorkeys Knob

We tried surfing a couple of weeks ago at Yorkeys Knob but the forecast wind didn't eventuate and the waves were too small and unreliable to do much with. A month or so before that, I had my first capsize when we paddled from Yorkeys Knob up to Ellis Beach. Despite a lot of (futile) trying, my eskimo roll is not any more reliable now than it was then, so if I happen to capsize again – always a possibility – I'll likely be pumping the boat out again. Or swimming to shore. Either way, I'll be out of the doldrums.

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